William Oates and Fiona Sullivan
Early gem uncovered by History House volunteers
The volunteers at Land of the Beardies History House Museum uncovered an early Land Record dating from 1854 while processing a batch of Government Gazettes. This Land Sales Book for the Wellingrove Police District of New England is a rare example of a system of land sales that occurred in the colony of NSW from the mid 1840s onwards. This register records the sale of land by government tender through the local agents.
The Museum recently donated this record to government custody by handing it over to State Records NSW via the University of New England Heritage Centre which operates as a Regional Repository. Thanks to the actions of the volunteers the record will be preserved and made accessible for future generations. It will be retained at the UNE Heritage Centre where it will be kept with other records that document the history of the region.
In addition to being a regional repository for the NSW State Records Authority, the UNE Heritage Centre provides advice and assistance regarding archives with the many local Historical Societies and Museums in the region.
Why are records like this so important?
The township of Wellingrove hosted a Court of Petty Sessions from 1847 until 1862, and it had a police office, once described by a resident of Wellingrove in the Maitland Mercury “as a fragile tenement, better fitted for a pigeon-box than a temple of justice.”
It is an interesting fact that many frontier locations like Wellingrove, lost population and government services as circumstances changed over time. Government records from this period sometimes strayed from official custody and some remain undiscovered to this day. For example it has been observed that there are more gravestones in the district then there are recorded deaths! Records from small schools, courts and other agencies are gratefully received back into official custody. The State Records Authority, and regional repositories such as the UNE Heritage Centre, have the resources to protect old records for the future, storing them safely and making them available to the public.
State Records Director praises Museum and UNE Heritage Centre
Alan Ventress, Director of State Records, was pleased when he heard the good news and said “We are extremely grateful to Glen Innes History House Museum for donating this volume and also to the UNE Heritage Centre for taking the volume into its care. The record will now be preserved as part of the distributed State archives collection. We really value the important role played by our regional repository partners”.